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Understanding SATs results

Schoolgirls leaving school
How are SATs marked, when will you see your child’s results and what do the marks mean? Moira Holden explains everything you need to know about the optional Y2 and compulsory Y6 SATs results.

Once the exams are over and your child has settled back into everyday school life, it can be easy to forget about SATs – until results day! We answer your questions about how the papers are marked and how secondary schools use the results. 

How are SATs marked?

If your child is sitting the optional KS1 SATs (Year 2) then their English and maths papers will be marked by the class teacher. Some papers may be sent to the local education authority (LEA) to be moderated to make sure marking is consistent. Science is teacher-assessed only.  
In contrast, all papers taken at Key Stage 2 by children at the age of 11 in English (reading and punctuation, spelling and grammar) and maths are marked externally. Science is teacher-assessed only.

SATs are updated and revised regularly; find out about the format of this year's SATs in our parents' guides to KS1 SATs and KS2 SATs.

When and how will I get the results?

Schools receive their provisional overall results for the school and individual pupils by the end of July.

It’s down to each school to decide how they give individual pupils' results to parents. Many schools send a sheet of results home with the child, usually as part of their end-of-year report, if the marks come through before the end of term.

For KS1 SATs you won't receive your child's actual SATs scores unless you ask for them, but you will be told whether your child is working at the expected standard as part of your child's end-of-KS1 teacher report and assessment.

National, local authority and individual schools' results are published in December.

What do the SATs results mean?

Since 2016 children have been given scaled SATs scores (replacing the National Curriculum levels used previously).

This scoring method is widely used for school assessments across the world. To calculate a child's scaled score, their raw score – in other words, the actual number of marks they achieved – will be converted into a scaled score. This is used to show whether the child has achieved the national standard for that subject. It also allows for comparisons of pupil performance over time as every scaled score represents the same level of attainment, whether a child has taken the test in 2016 or in 2018.

In the past, there was a separate Level 6 SATs paper that only the highest-achieving children were entered for. This separate paper is no longer be set, but the tests taken by every KS2 child will have questions that are designed to allow the higher-attaining pupils to show their strengths. 

KS1 SATs scores explained

For the optional KS1 SATs your child's raw SATs score – the actual number of marks they get in the tests – will be translated into a scaled score, where a score of 100 means the child is working at the expected standard. A score below 100 indicates that the child needs more support, whereas a score of above 100 suggests the child is working at a higher level than expected for their age. The maximum score possible is 115, and the minimum is 85.

Teachers are given conversion tables to translate their pupils' raw scores into scaled scores. They'll then use these scores to inform their teacher assessment. This means that the score that your child is given may not be the result they achieved in their SATs, but a score based on SATs results, classwork and the teacher's observations.

KS1 SATs are now non-compulsory and your child's school may choose whether or not to administer them. 

KS2 SATs scores explained

In KS2 SATs, the papers are marked externally, with no teacher assessment involved.

Each child will be awarded a raw score and a scaled score, and receive confirmation of whether or not they achieved the national standard (‘NS’  means the expected standard was not achieved; ‘AS’ means the expected standard was achieved).

Please note that schools are free to report SATs results as they choose, so as a parent you might be given their sclaed score or a code (or both); you are unlikely to be told your child's raw test scores.

The list of KS2 SATs outcome codes in full is:

  • AS: the expected standard has been achieved
  • NS: the expected standard has not been achieved
  • A: the child was absent from one or more of the test papers
  • B: the child is working below the level assessed by KS2 SATs
  • M: the child missed the test
  • T: the child is working at the level of the tests but is unable to access them (because all or part of a test is not suitable for a pupil with particular special educational needs)
The range of scaled scores available for each KS2 test is the same, this year and in future years:
  • 80 is the lowest possible scaled score
  • 120 is the highest possible scaled score
A scaled score of 100 or more means that the child has met the expected standard in each test; a scaled score of 99 or less means they haven't reached the government-expected standard.

In 2018 64% of pupils met the new expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics. In reading, 75% achieved the standard, in maths 76% met the standard, in spelling, punctuation and grammar tests 78% of pupils met the expected standard, and in writing a total of 78% of children met the expected standard. The percentage of pupils reaching the expected standard has risen evey year since 2016.

Teacher-assessment results at the end of Year 6

As well as receiving KS2 SATs results, at the end of Y6 you will be told your child's teacher-assessment results for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The teacher-assessment result codes you can expect to see are:
  • GDS: Working at greater depth within the expected standard (for writing assessment only)
  • EXS: Working at the expected standard
  • WTS: Working towards the expected standard (for writing assessment only)
  • HNM: Has not met the expected standard (reading and maths assessment only)
  • PKG: Pre-key stage, growing development of the expected standard (the child is working at a lower level than expected)
  • PKF: Pre-key stage, foundations for the expected standard (the child is working at a significantly lower level than expected)
  • BLW: The child is working below the pre-key stage standards (the lowest level of attainment)
  • A: Awarded if the child was absent
  • D: Awarded if the child is disapplied (has not been been tested at KS2 level)

How are SATs results used by secondary schools?

Year 7 teachers will be told their incoming pupils' SATs scaled scores. Some use these results to stream new starters in Year 7, so you need to find out if your child’s new school does this. Others may use a combination of SATs results and Year 7 CATs (Cognitive Ability Tests) or their own internal tests at the beginning of the new term.  

What results are expected in Y1, Y3, Y4 and Y5?

In the no-SATs years, children won't be allocated National Curriculum levels or a scaled score. Instead, schools will be able to set their own grading system. In most schools, this is likely to be measured as working towards expected levels, working at expected levels, or working above expected levels, although the wording may differ.  
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